Yes, Black People Homeschool Their Kids, Too

BY: - 11 Aug '11 | Parenting

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by Athelda Ensley

In the late 90s my family decided to give homeschooling a try. At the time our oldest daughter was nearly two years old. She’d begun to sing commercial jiggles and the intros to her favorite televisions shows. In our minds it was time for her to give the alphabet a try. Fortunately for me and my husband, there were many tools available in the average bookstore for teaching at this level.

When we began this educational process, school was only 15 minutes per day. We hadn’t worked out all the kinks about which curriculum to start a 1.5 year old on, neither did we know if the process would succeed. We did know that this schooling option was being adopted by white families throughout North Carolina, where we lived at the time. Taking this step would steer our family in a beautiful path of learning, growth, and pioneering education for our race.

A matter of commitment

Commitment is definitely critical when it comes to home schooling. Finding a choice of curriculum wasn’t as difficult as finding other Black families with our same interest. Despite this problem, we made a commitment to see what the next three years would unfold for our daughter (and the one on the way) in terms of this process. The first five years of development are really the most crucial when it comes to teaching an educational foundation. So we were committed to spending those five years teaching at home and determining if we would continue.

Finding a teaching style

By the age of three, our oldest daughter was reading short books. This was definitely a milestone for success. When our youngest daughter reached 1.5 years old, we did what had now become natural. We started to teach her at home. To our surprise, she wasn’t interested at all. We quickly learned that teaching styles have to adapt to the child being taught. This is true not only for Black children, but for all children. Our daughter quickly began to spark interest when a friendly hand-puppet joined her in school each day. This was the beginning of her homeschool journey.

Evolving your plan

As the girls got older, I needed help teaching math (my weakness). My husband stepped in at this point. Before I knew it they were learning high school math, while still working on their middle school curriculum in other subjects. From that day to now, our plans have had to continue to evolve. Now the girls are 14 and 16, and in college. They are both working on associates degrees, one in social work and the other in humanities. Homeschooling is all about learning as a family and being ready for opportunities when they come your way.

The girls now

I cannot say that this long process was always easy. There were times when we all had to motivate each other to continue. Each year we began to see more and more progress in the girls and their ability to think critically. Now that we’ve finished the homeschool process and the girls are attending college, teaching has taken on a new role for me. Both girls understand that their story isn’t typical, not only among Black families but any family. Moving ahead it is important to them that they inspire other girls, especially minorities, to achieve despite the odds, stereotypes, and hurdles.

Challenges overcome

As a family we have overcome a host of challenges as it relates to homeschooling. We had to learn early on the art of living on one income. I believe that sacrifice and pursuit has been just as important in the lives of our children as the process of educating them. I mentioned our desire to find other Black families with the same schooling goals. It took a few years for us to connect with those families, but we did it. Along the way, we were able to embrace all of the families that we met, whether through support groups or extracurricular activities.

Reference Resources:

Homeschooling Basics (101) by Beverly Hernandez, About.com Guide

– “The new pioneers – Black Homeschoolers,” Home School Legal Defense Association Magazine, July/August edition.

Athelda Ensley is a freelance writer and author who writes at her Speed of Life blog.

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BMWK Staff wrote 1241 articles on this blog.

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26 WordPress comments on “Yes, Black People Homeschool Their Kids, Too

  1. Pingback: Yes, Black People Homeschool Their Kids, Too | Black and Married … - Home School News for Parents

      1. Reginald Williams

        Tara,

        I have clients (3 couples) who home school, and then I know of two others couples – in all 5 of these situations homeschooling is a great thing for the children, however it is actually causing division in the families. Everybody was/is on board (husbands had no problem being sole financial providers), however somewhere in the process the entire scope of the homeschooling wasn’t properly planned — and this is just a best guess assumption on my part.

        http://www.ruleyourwife316.com

  2. Modestbeliever1

    I have been homeschooling my daughter exclusively since she was in the 5th grade and she is now entering her Senior year of school. I think it has been a wonderful option for me and my family. I would and will do it with any other children we have.

  3. Dretheldraytoncraig

    Ms. Pringle,
    Thank you for this description of what you did.   I would be interested to know about their social development now that they are in college at a very much younger age than the average 18 – 21 year old.   What has their adjustment been like going from an isolated learning setting to one that includes many others and what is their adjustment process been in relating to young adults, as well as, how others relate to them on the college campus setting.   I know there are rewarding interactions and there are certainly challenges.

    ~Dr. Ethel Drayton-Craig
    http://dretheldrayton-craig.blogspot.com
    http://www.etheldrayton-craig.com

    1. Atheldaensley

      There are a few misconceptions when it comes to home schooling. When we lived outside Atlanta, there were more than 300 families in our support group. We did co-op classes, projects, fieldtrips and various other weekly events together. Socialization is actually taught by parents and not other people or   other children. We haven’t had a problem with this issue. The girls, however, have quickly learned how to manuver in this challenging environment. This year they were both selected as ambassadors for the college, which allows them to steer new students into the  college experience. Clubs and events associated with them, have really helped them to raise their comfort levels. Each is unique and has varied interests though. atheldaensley@gmail.com

  4. Crjinvestement

    My husband and I have decided this year to homeschool our daughter who is in the 8th grade and 13 years old. After reading your story I wish I had started earlier with all of my children (2 boys who have graduated already). I am glad we are doing it now giving her a chance to really learn and flourish at her own pace and she is really excited about it. I just realized that public school is just not for all children. Some children flourish while others get left behind. I still have time to get her on track  and above where she needs to be and I am glad to know that I am making the right decision for my family now.   We have chosen our curriculum andwill get started in September as we are in the middle of a move to another state. We are looking forward to meeting other families and getting connected in he loop for support because I know it won’t be easy. Thank you for your story as I don’t know any black families that are homeschooling and even though I don’t know you I feel like this story has come right on time as confirmation that we are on the right road.

    1. Atheldaensey

      Thank-you so much. It’s definitely not too late to get started. I’ve met many people who have opted to home school at this point. Do a web search for support groups in your area. It may take awhile to find other black families, depending on where you live. The support itself is priceless. Co-ops are awesome too. Feel free to contact me with any questions, or just to decompress (Lol). atheldaensley@gmail.com

  5. Elizabeth Leggett

    A description of very challenging, but more equally rewarding life experience and the risk that we have to take both individually and jointly as a family unit. Thanks for sharing “your-story,” hopefully it will inspire, motivate and challenge others to step out of “our” comfort level(s) and sat short/long term goals for our children’s educational and live success. God Bless!

  6. Ty

    My husband and I homeschool our 5 children and have done so for the last 5 years.   Our two youngest have never been to public school and are happy, well adjusted and academically advanced for their age levels.   I kick myself for not being on board when our oldest was 5 and my husband (a public school teacher) suggested that, for us, homeschooling might be the best road to take.   Some years later, when we did begin homeschooling, our family found a very natural “groove” of living and learning.   We tell people all the time that homeschooling is a lifestyle.   If you don’t want to live it 24/7 perhaps this isn’t for you.   Our oldest is now entering his senior year of high school and preparing to go off to college next year.   The kids are in music lessons, scouting, play sports, regularly volunteer in the community and have a wonderful network of   friends in our group (which we started with three other families) called HomeschoolBrownFacedFamilies (BFF).   If you are a minority homeschooler in the greater Houston, TX area…feel free to look us up on Facebook or join our yahoo group.   We have outings on the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month and we encourage each other on this wonderful journey of home education.  

    Homeschooling has been a wonderful experience for us.   Of course it can differ from state to state, but the time, bonding, teaching experiences have been invaluable.   After traveling to Sweden this summer to attend the World Scout Jamboree, our oldest returned having met other homeschoolers from around the globe.   It definitely is a wonderful alternative to the high cost of private school when you KNOW public education is simply not what you want for your children.   If you have questions…I am happy to encourage and meet up with other homeschoolers nationwide.   Email me at:   tthomas_attorney@yahoo.com   Many Blessings to you all!

    1. Atheldaensley

      Definitely don’t kick yourself. Whenever you started home schooling was the right time for you and your family. You are right, it is definitely a lifestyle. Organization and dedication   are paramount. We have been fortunate too, where travel is concern. In fact, we took a home school cruise to Jamaica, Mexico, and Grand Cayman. It was neat to meet families from all over. Our travels have taken us to over half the states and Canada. Who says every trip can’t be a learning experience? Ironically, we’re in the Houston area also. atheldaensley@gmail.com

  7. Martha A. Snowden

    I would like to home school my daughter and son but I am a bit apprehensive about it because we are expecting twins in the next two weeks. I was hoping to start either in January or September when it would be a tad bit more realistic. Our daughter is 11 and going intot he sixth grade, she reads and writes at a 8th grade level which is only as high as the test goes I guess they thnk she is doing better than that. Are there tools tohelp you keep up with the kids progress in subject areas where you are not naturally strong such   as math? What are the qualifications to be able to homeschool or are they different according to state, or district? where do you recommend someone start?

  8. Rashida Simmons

    This article just did my heart good!! I’ve been ‘casually’ homeschooling our 3 year old and I want to do it at least thru his elementary years, possibly longer. I have family that homeschooled successfully but so many people, family and friends, are against doing it for his schooling straight thru high school and ‘socializing’ is the catchphrase thrown about all the time. When I try to tell them there are lots of co-ops, programs and support groups to allow him time with other kids in a learning environment I’m usually talking to deaf ears. But then I see my 3 yr old reading books intended for a 2nd grader by himself, or spelling words in sign language, or having full conversations with adults who assume he’s 6, I think we’re on the right track. It’s a very personal decision but a lot harder to make when the people close to us only partially support the concept. But I’m so glad to read about other Black families who’ve homeschooled up to college successfully and happily. Thank you for sharing!!

    1. MrsKaboom

      I am new to homeschooling this year and we would like to connect with other Black families who homeschool. I can’t speak for others but I can say that for us it is important because seeing others who look like him doing things he does or wants to do concretizes our son’s dreams. It boosts his confidence and determination to succeed. We could also benefit from the support of our fellow homeschool parents as well.

  9. Anonymous

    I am happy to  read about more black families home schooling.   I think so many children of color get left behind in the public schools.   But I think the most important element in all children suceeding in their schooling is parental involvement and how important education is to a family.   Too many families do not put education in the forfront of family life.   this comment is about children of all colors.  

  10. Guest

    Great post. Me and my husband have been homeschooling for a year in a half now. It was mainly out of need to do so, the school and teachers dropped the bal on our childl. It wasn’t an easy decision at first but the Lord revealed to us that this would be best for our child. It has indeed been a blessing for her. It was a difficult transition for me on my part but lots of prayer and support system from other homeschooling parents. I have already started teaching our four yr old, giving him a head start. My extended family don’t agree with our choice to homeschool but they don’t get a vote in our home or what needs to happen with our kids. Parents are the children’s first teachers so I will do my part first. God said to the parents “train up your child….”

  11. Natural Woman

    Thanks for this article.  It is refreshing to “see” other black homeschoolers.   Sometimes it feels so lonely in this world.   I certainly understand why the majority of us are low key in this educational lifestyle, but sometimes it can be stifling to others who want to join and don’t know where to begin.

  12. Pingback: Back to (Home)school: How a Homeschooling Family Preps for the School Year | Black and Married With Kids.com - A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

  13. Pingback: Yes You Can! Teach Your Own Kids By Homeschooling | Black and Married With Kids.com - A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

  14. Pingback: Why should Africans all over the globe home school? | BBNomics

  15. Pingback: Afrocentric Homeschooling in Black Families | A2Z Homeschooling

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Do You Care About Clean Air?

BY: - 12 Aug '11 | Home

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I have been shopping, packing, and organizing for weeks now, as I prepare to send my oldest son off to college to start his freshman year.

  • Toiletries – check,
  • comforter and sheets ““ check
  • school supplies ““ check
  • Inhaler – check.

Yes, I have to make sure he has an inhaler as he as asthma.   For the most part, he does not need it anymore.   But he is going to a new city in a different part of the country and I don’t know how he will react to allergens or environmental pollutants in that city. And I am not taking any chances.

According to studies, asthma strikes 1 out 10 school aged children in the US and it is the cause for more hospitalizations for children than any other illness!!   It accounts for countless missed work and school days, trips to the clinic and trips to the doctor.

Unfortunately, my son is part of this statistic. I know first hand about the terror of seeing my child gasping for air because he is unable to breath.   It’s a scenario that all too many parents in the US are all too familiar with.

Although the tendency to develop asthma may be inherited (i.e. some families are more likely to have it than others) the onset of asthma may be brought on by environmental pollutants. And this certainly is something that we can change”...it’s not out of our control.

So when the Moms Clean Air Force approached Lamar and me about joining their cause, we were 100% all in!!

Politicians in Congress, encouraged by irresponsible corporations and lobbyists, are trying to gut the Clean Air Act and dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency.

When you get right down to it, they’re fighting for the right to pollute our air.

Lined up against them to strengthen clean air regulations are some of the most respected medical organizations in the world: the American Lung Association; the American Medical Association; the American Heart Association; the American Academy of Pediatricians; the American Nurses Association.

One group is missing on this front: Mothers.

We want to change that. Moms have passion and power “” an unbeatable combination “” as we’ve seen in all the mom blogs. Now we have to harness that strength to fight back against polluters.

So we’ve launched a website and a movement: Moms Clean Air Force.

We’re asking Moms (and Dads) to join together, to come out in strength for our kids’ right to clean air “” just as our parents fought for us, forty years ago, when the Clean Air Act was first passed. ”

Wow -that’s a cause that we can really get behind.   But I am not going to mislead you; I was kind of intimidated by this charge.   I mean….we are sort of environmentally conscious.   We have been aggressively recycling for a year now at our home (Yes.   I know; what took us so long?)   We own a hybrid.   We don’t litter.   We ask the kids to conserve energy around the house, by turning off lights and running water. And Lamar and I both work from home now”...that’s big because it reduces the amount of emissions that we were producing.   I think we are on the right path. But we have more work to do towards reducing our impact on the environment and reducing our carbon footprint.

So BMWK family, we are hoping that you will join us on this journey to educate and inspire others (moms, dads, folks with no kids, kids…) to actively engage in activities to protect clean air and the EPA.   This can be done by joining our cause and by sharing our posts.

You can start now by checking out and liking/following the Moms Clean Air Force website, facebook page and twitter.

BMWK Family – I would like to understand what everyone is doing to protect the environment.   Please share what you are doing today to protect the environment and clean air?

Sources –  Asthma In   Children http://www.emedicinehealth.com/asthma_in_children/article_em.htm

Disclaimer:   We are members of the Moms Clean Air Force and receive a small honorarium for the time that we spend writing articles, attending events and promoting this cause online. Please understand and have full confidence in the fact that we do not put our name or the BMWK brand on anything that we don’t fully believe in.

About the author

Ronnie Tyler wrote 523 articles on this blog.

Ronnie Tyler is the co-creator of BlackandMarriedWithKids.com and co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing. The proud mom of 4 has been selected by Parenting Magazine as a Must-Read Mom and is one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Bloggers.

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